August 30, 2011, 9:59 AM — Among online productivity suites, Zoho Docs brings a unique third-party perspective to the mix. Microsoft and Google are each entrenched in their own cultures and tools, but Zoho Docs takes a more flexible cross-platform approach, and it adds some innovative features that are worth considering.
Zoho has a comfortable-to-use layout that will feel familiar to Microsoft Office users. The various Zoho apps--which include word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation components--look and behave a lot like the pre-Ribbon Microsoft Office, particularly Office 2003. Even so, Zoho stands out with some innovative features, such as a drop-down formatting menu for enclosing selected text with various quotation marks or brackets, and another that changes the formatting of selected text to all caps or merely capitalizes each word. Zoho has fewer font choices than Microsoft's Office 365 does, though.
Regrettably, Zoho doesn't deliver the power and flexibility that real spreadsheet gurus need. The Web-based tools are sufficient for basic tasks, but they lack many advanced features.
Most businesses rely on Microsoft Office as their primary desktop productivity suite. The value of a rival platform such as Zoho Docs hinges on how compatible it is with Office formatting conventions and file types.
In document fidelity--maintaining formatting consistency from a Microsoft Office program to a cloud-based equivalent and back again (or vice versa)--no online productivity platform is perfect.
Zoho Docs is in the same boat as Google Apps when it comes to file fidelity, but Zoho has an advantage over Google in supported file types. Zoho can export files in the current XML-based file formats used in Office 2007 and 2010 (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx), but Google Apps is limited to saving Office files in the outdated .doc, .xls, and .ppt formats.
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